I got very upset about the coverage I saw regarding Obama's Kotel prayer. By now everyone has heard about how it apparently made it's way into the newspaper, but the story about the Reuters' picture and consequent spin on the Obama Hebrew posters should have been a clue.
When/if you read the world press, it has to be with a very critical eye and with great suspicion. The questions which should have popped up are:
1. If it is stated that no one's prayer has ever before been printed without their permission, might the candidate not have given his permission?
2. Might the campaign people who put up the posters not have circulated a copy of the prayer for publication for publicity's purposes?
3. Why is the "yeshiva bochur" who supposedly is responsible nameless and faceless?
4. Why would a yeshiva bochur do such a thing? (I don't think he would.)
5. And if he would, why would he choose Maariv to give it to?
You get the idea. This is part and parcel of giving someone the benefit of the doubt and we should practice it on a regular basis in any situation where a Jew has been accused of something.
Instead of rushing to judgement and quick condemnation, we should start by saying, "I don't believe it."
The press (largely non-Jewish) has multiplied its sins of repeating lashon hara by installing "Comments" and "Talkbacks" on their internet versions which entice others to add their own lashon hara to the mix. The same holds for blogger comments. Be careful not to be drawn into this!
We all have to be much more conscious of our speech, both verbal and written. There really isn't any such thing as "free speech." It often comes both with a price and at a price---one you might not be willing to pay.
Be very mindful of the period of time in which we find ourselves right now--the three weeks between 17 Tammuz and 9 Av. Be very mindful of sinat chinam and what it really is. An outpouring of hatred against a "yeshiva bochur" who in all likelihood does not even exist would be a travesty if it were to occur. And we would be the poorer for it, G-d forbid!
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